Wednesday, 29 July 2015

IRRATIONAL MAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Woody Allen pulls one out of the drawer.

Irrational Man (2015)
Dir. Woody Allen
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Once again Woody Allen dusts off a script from his drawer of un-produced projects (at least this is how it seems of late) and, surprise-surprise, delivers another old-man-boinking-younger-babe trifle. I have no problem with this.

Bring it on, Wood-Man, bring it on.

Irrational Man creepily and amusingly lurks about territory Allen's already explored in Crimes and Misdemeanours and Match Point, nowhere in the realm of the former, but certainly a lot more enjoyable than the latter. He slices and dices more than a few bits o' Hitchcock to bolster his derivative stew, most notably Strangers on a Train and Shadow of a Doubt, both homages adding bulk to the Konigsberg cauldron. Even more happily, he plunges his characters amidst the backdrop of academia which allows for a fair share of heady verbal volleys.

Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) joins the Philosophy Department of a dozy Rhode Island university just in time for summer session. Grumpy, morose and sucking back booze from a flask, Abe carries a dubious reputation on his shoulders, but this isn't enough to stop babe-o-licious student Jill (Emma Stone) from falling head over heels in love with him. Abe abandons his comely, horny married lover (Parker Posey) for some fresh-tastic quim d' Emma Stone who, in turn, abandons her fiancé Roy (Jamie Blackley) to partake of some schwance de Joaquin.

When Abe gets wind of a nefarious plot to destroy an innocent woman's life via legal means, he becomes obsessed with murdering the man responsible. He believes he's planned the perfect crime, but upon carrying it out, he didn't quite reckon on his bouncy undergrad sniffing him out. With Jill going all Teresa Wright on him, Abe comes to the only "logical" conclusion. He's killed once, so why not kill again? He is, after all, a philosopher of the highest order and can pretty much justify any heinous actions he chooses to commit - at least to himself.

Amusingly enough, movie buffs will not only see Stone's character transform into "Charlie" Newton, but Allen gives us a trip to the fairgrounds a la Strangers on a Train and a funny Shadow of a Doubt-like murder-most-foul guessing game. Yeah, this is geek stuff all the way, but I accept it wholeheartedly.

Though the laughs are few and far between, those that come, come heartily and darkly. Allen never takes us as deep as he did in Crimes and Misdemeanours, but one senses that this isn't foremost on his mind, anyway. If anything, he's chosen to root homicide in a playground and as such, he delivers a strange, but sprightly 96 minutes of mildly perverse fun.

Amidst all the roller coaster rides of summer, I'm delighted enough to gobble down some Woody Allen, even if it's a bit more lower drawer than one might have hoped for. His least-inspired makes the best of most look like crap.

The Film Corner Rating: *** 3-Stars

Irrational Man is a Mongrel Media release of a Sony Pictures Classics film.